FIFA 17 Review

October 11, 2016

Three things in this life are certain – Death, Taxes and the fact that each year will usher in the prerequisite annual sports release, usually boasting a few incremental tweaks and gameplay updates to entice fans into picking up what is, essentially, a very similar game to that which they more than likely purchased the previous year.

But, on the odd occasion, a major series will receive such a massive overhaul that the new features take precedence over the minute quality of life improvements and one has to admit that, yes, this time the franchise has taken a major step forward.

FIFA 17 is one of those games.


Now, cards on the table, I’m not the biggest fan of sporting sims in general, but I have been known to pick up the controller and have a whirl on FIFA now and then, having last dabbled seriously when FIFA 14 released on PS3.

So, obviously things would feel a little different with this, my first foray into the current generation of FIFA games, but having taken a look at some of the improvements and new features added in my three-year absence, I think I can comfortably say that there’s more of a leap ahead between this and last year’s entry than there was between FIFA 14 to 16.

Perhaps most noticeable is the addition of new mode “The Journey”, which is a fully fledged story mode that offers up multiple choice dialogue options and short cutscenes between matches that fill out the plot.


You take control of Alex Hunter, a cockney lad who’s setting out on his first wavering steps towards entering the big leagues; although the Career mode also lets you take the same career trajectory. The Journey is a more authentic take on the tired “rags to riches” trope and the mode is all the better for forcing players to take control of Alex rather than a custom character, as it helps make the writing and dialogue a lot more focused and realistic.

Besides being judged by your skill level and performance throughout the training and competitive matches, public perception of Alex and, by proxy, your standing in the club, can be affected by the dialogue choices you make throughout the game. Make too many incendiary remarks and you might find yourself dropped from the starting eleven, but play up to the media and it can raise your profile within the club.


Overall, The Journey is an immersive take on injecting a little something different into the FIFA formula and it succeeds on almost every level, leaving the similar NBA2k16’s embarrassing “Spike Lee Joint” in the dust.

Ultimate Team is much as you’ll remember, tasking players with forming an unstoppable juggernaut of a team, although the addition of squad building exercises and the risk and reward system of building your team up around a particular player’s skill before unlocking additional bonuses by cutting them from the team does add an extra dimension of strategy.


Career mode similarly hasn’t undergone all that many changes from the established template but being able to select the appearance of your manager is a nice touch, even if all of the character models on offer look like they’d smell of mothballs and have an unhealthy affinity for Werthers’ butterscotch.

Managing your club entails maintaining a good season as well as balancing the business side of things, such as the profits you’re making from T-Shirts, with your performance. There was the potential for an interesting bit of micromanagement here but ultimately the business side of things boils down to simply ensuring that your team performs well – succeed and your club will be a whole lot more comfortable, drop the ball consistently and morale and finances will be negatively impacted as a result.


From a graphical perspective, FIFA 17 is the best looking entry in the series to date, boasting sumptuous and realistic visuals achievable by EA’s shift to using the Frostbite engine as the new standard. Resulting in more naturalistic lighting and fine detail, the level of authenticity afforded to the player animation results in a visual experience that’s almost imperceptible from the real thing.

The audio is similarly as accomplished, although your mileage will vary in regards to the track listing of the soundtrack. Personally nothing really stood out but thankfully the immersive quality of the stadium sounds and cheers of the crowd as well as the commentary, which seems slightly more accurate in terms of conveying the action unfolding onscreen than in previous years, more than made up for the lack of any appealing music.


As you’d expect given the series’ pedigree, the controls are tight and responsive, refined to near perfection after years and years of experimentation. Newer players can hone their skills using the FIFA trainer and on-screen indicators highlight the ball’s trajectory to help ease players into precision aiming. It’s easy to pick up and makes for a more accessible game but it’ll take dedication to master all of the subtle nuances of the control scheme and rise to the top of the pack.

FIFA 17 also boasts a solid online component that offers quick matchmaking and a stable connection throughout, at least in my experiences so far. Matches are easy to set up and you’re never stuck waiting more than a minute when finding an opponent; with a variety of modes to muck around with and a large and thriving community, online is one area where FIFA leaves the PES series in the dust.


Presentation wise, this is FIFA’s shining moment – never has the game looked as close to the real thing as it does here.

Bolstered by a surprisingly effective story mode that incorporates slight RPG elements, the quality of which was surely boosted by Bioware stepping in to lend EA a hand throughout development, FIFA 17 also benefits from a rock solid gameplay foundation and the transition to the Frostibite engine, making this an easy recommend to fans of the series and football aficionados in general.


- The Journey is a great addition
- Gameplay is refined to near perfection
- Most realistic visuals to date


- Commentary can still wildly vary in accuracy
- Physics can go haywire at times
- Slower pace than its contemporaries

Overall Score: